We as a society can get caught up in numbers. It’s easy to start attaching our self-worth to the number of likes that we get, the followers we have and comments we receive across social media platforms. I know people who have let the pursuit of numbers fully consume them and miss out on opportunities to connect with others in the real world because they are focused on their next post.
Two of the most common questions I get from people interested in starting their own podcasts are: How many listeners do you have and how quick can you start getting ad revenue? My answer to both is, I don’t know. Neither is the reason why I started this endeavor.
An audience of one
Just because I don’t keep track of our weekly podcasts numbers doesn’t mean I don’t have an idea of who our audience is. We announced on our birthday week that we now have Baton Carriers in 101 different countries. Even with the large group that we are blessed to have I still write to you as an individual and you’ll often hear John and I talk about the table for three on the show. John, myself and you. It’s all I’m concerned with.
I regularly run across people that think they aren’t true leaders until they lead a certain number of people or obtain a certain title. They are looking for a sense of arrival when there is none in leadership. Even if you have zero followers you can lead your peers well by modeling great leadership behaviors. Focus on leading your one very well and you’ll be asked to lead more in the future. Let tomorrow worry about itself.
Hold on to your why
As your audience grows, there is a strong temptation to change who you are to match the trends of the day. Dale Partridge discusses this cycle in this book People Over Profit. You start out in the Honest Era, being defined by your values. You become successful and start chasing more in the Efficient Era. You begin to compromise yourself in the Deceptive Era and then you try to right the ship in the Apologetic Era. You can think about any large company are trace how they have gone through this cycle, sometimes multiple times. The same cycle also applies to our personal life in regard to growing an audience and influence.
Hold on to your Why so you don’t fall into the cycle that Dale talks about. It’s your North Star to keep you focused on staying in the right direction. Check your compass by evaluating yourself, your team and your organization to ensure that your values still hold true and your values on the wall haven’t turned into just another decoration. I typically do this personally and professionally a couple of times a year.
When you find yourself drifting from your Why, apologize and right yourself as quickly as possible even if it means letting go of some of your audience.
After the numbers and equipment questions, future podcasts often reveal how they are overwhelmed with getting great music, a logo, format, and quality sound. That fear and sense of perfection causes many people to never even start their show and once they do, most shows don’t go past number 7.
I mean, have you listened to PTB Episode 1?
It’s two guys who are huddled around one mic and not knowing a thing about podcasting. We didn’t even know how to record the show! I think it took me 5 hours to write the first intro music for the show.
……But we did it.
You can do it too. Just start. Start leading yourself well today. Start working on that project you’ve wanted to today. Start that podcast as a full-on amateur hour basement show. Don’t worry about being perfect for an audience of 1000 that you don’t have (yet). Do it for yourself or friend or family member. I just want you to start and then figure it out from there.
Your audience size truly does not matter. What matters is that you are willing to influence others one person at a time.
When you spend time with others it shows to them that they matter. -Lee Cockerell
I’m so excited to have Lee Cockerell as our guest for our 200th episode of Passing the Baton. Lee is the retired Executive Vice President of Disney World and currently travels the world speaking to clients and companies about the power of Creating Disney Magic in their own organizations. Today he shares his thoughts on showing your team care and support. -ZH
Appreciation, recognition, encouragement: A.R.E. Together they make up a cost-free, fully sustainable fuel, one that builds self-confidence and self-esteem, boosts individual and team performance, and keeps an organization running cleanly and smoothly.
Spend meaningful time with employees
You’d be surprised how much it means to people when their leader chooses to be with them – not looking over their shoulders but helping them, getting to know them, asking what they think and feel, and simply enjoying their company. Employees know how valuable your time is, so if you spend some of it with them, they figure they must be pretty valuable too.
When I was at Disney World I spent about half my time out and about, visiting Cast Members. I asked them to walk me through their operations and show me all the good things they were doing for Guests. The message I was sending was simple but profound: ” You matter, and I know it. We couldn’t do it without you.”
When you’re a leader, you’re well served by being visible. I always found that seeing employees with the hair down and meeting their children and spouses added a personal touch to my relationship with them that made working together easier and more pleasant. You give out tremendous amounts of ARE just by showing up.
Give extra ARE to frontline employees
Pay particular attention to your frontline employees. They often get overlooked when leaders dole out recognition and the are most likely to get heat from the customer. Employees that don’t feel cared for are not committed one. They may give only 50% effort instead of 100%, or worse, they get revenge by gossiping, quitting abruptly, suing the company, or even stealing.
Make sure to treat frontline employees as respectfully as you treat higher positions, if not more so, even when you have to disciple or fire them. You can be tough, but your frontline employees should always know that you’re on their side and that you appreciate what they bring to your organization.
Make ARE a natural part of your routine
Great leaders are environmentalists. If you want to attract and keep the best employees, you have to create a wonderful environment for them, and I assure you, ARE is as important to a healthy workplace as clean air and water are to a healthy planet.
To build the routine in your habits, schedule it. Make it a habit today and don’t hold it off until tomorrow. If you aren’t comfortable expressing your emotions face-to-face yet use notes, pins, certificates, publications and other methods that don’t involve speaking to the person directly. The most important thing no matter how you give it is to give it regularly. People who say that it’s not a good time, are using that as an excuse not to get started.
I used to write down in my Day-Timer the names of deserving people I wanted to acknowledge, not just employees who did something exceptional, but those that needed a little extra support too. Remember, for some, a workplace with a heart can be a place of refuge.
Other ways to show ARE to others
Recognize them by name.
Catch them doing something right.
Make it public.
Include their families.
Recognize and encourage great ideas.
Watch our company language.
Remember that ARE is contagious. Each person who receives ARE from you will have more of it to give to his or her co-workers, colleagues, and customers. It’s not only free fuel but the main ingredient for creating a culture of magic.
Respect Everyone desires respect among their peers and co-workers. This is the main reason why I don’t appreciate the phrase “OK Boomer”. I understand that it’s rooted in the frustration that a younger generation feels like they are ignored and being held to outdated ideology. Answering disrespect with disrespect only proves the other person’s point in their own mind and does nothing to build a meaningful relationship.
To be heard Similarly, everyone has a desire to be heard. Take time to listen to others without judgment no matter the age difference. Their point and perspective is just as valid as yours.
Connection On some level we all desire connection with others. People, for the most part, enjoy collaborating, mentoring and helping those that they are close to. We enjoy sharing ideas and thoughts when we feel safe and supported to do so.
Being recognized Positive feedback, praise, and recognition go along way no matter your age. It strongly affirms and builds confidence in your leaders while showing respect and appreciation for older leaders. You can never give out too much praise. The person who has been around 30 years will love it just as much as the person who has been around 30 days.
Keep the light on Every generation hates being left in the dark. Be inclusive of all groups and communicate clearly with a varied approach to match your audience. When you don’t deliver the narrative and mission people will begin to write their own.
Magical things begin to happen in your organization when different generations work well together. Here are just a few of those benefits:
Innovation increases Forbes led a study that showed diversity being key to driving innovation in your team. It’s the increase in perspective and experience that is the fuel for talent and ideas here. Each generation can provide insight and knowledge to an innovative thought regardless of stereotypes.
Better serves your customer/client The increased perspective also gives your team a great advantage of fully understanding your audience. This is one of the reasons why I always coach teams to match the customer that they deal with on a daily basis.
Future-proofing your workforce
Last year, we had Diana Wu David speak on our show (Ep 182) on future-proofing your success as an individual. Generations that work well across lines in a company future-proof the success of the organization. Your loss of knowledge drops significantly when older leaders leave and your younger leaders step into those roles.
We talk about the power of mentorship often, but mentoring in this circumstance can be a two-way street. The older ones can mentor younger leaders on people issues, industry knowledge, and best practices. The younger leader can return value by offering a perspective in changing demographics and technology changes.
Well rounded skillset
Your organizational and team ability increases as generations work together for a common goal. An example would be utilizing the communication preferences from last week’s lesson in a sales campaign. Your older team members could utilize phone outreach while your mid-tier leveraged email and your younger leaders reached out by apps, text and social media.
There is beauty when different generations are working together and adding value to one another. Work hard to identify any issues that you may have, understand their perspective and lean into their uniqueness to lead them well. You and those around you will a more fulfilling work experience.
Misconceptions, stereotypes and a lack of respect for other generations have further fueled the need for understanding each other. If we are going to be productive, we must know how to connect with each other.
This was a lesson that I had to learn once I started leading large groups of people. I often found younger leaders would pick up and follow me and older leaders would stubbornly stand their ground no matter how obvious it was that they needed to change. Once I learned what was important to each group, I was much more successful in engaging all of my leaders.
The chart above helps you with an empathetic view of the other generations you work with on a regular basis. Understanding general communication preferences and values can go along way in eliminating frustration and friction across generational lines.
I am a very driven leader that focuses on problem-solving and implementing change regardless of how things have always been done. My disconnect when leading seasoned baby-boomers for the first time was that I didn’t realize how much value they put on tenure and legacy. Once I learned my lesson, I changed my approach. I acknowledged their tenure, assigned them projects to showcase those skills in front of others, and framed all the changes through the lens of landing a great legacy at the company. Those changes made a world of difference.
Show them respect, include them in major change initiatives and frame them in a way that matters to them.
Gen X is the first generation to be chasers of work-life balance. I have found them to be very hard working but often missed out on promotions and potential because they were never developed in the right way. They were typically given very general feedback of, “Do better.” “Keep trying.” or nothing at all. I found that this group thrives by giving them practical steps to achieve their success. Don’t just tell them to do better. Tell them how to do better in a tangible way. Providing them with time management training and system efficiencies is very well appreciated. It shows you care for them outside of the workplace.
Certainly, a lot of material has been written about this group. This group is not nearly as loyal to a brand or company as the previous two generations. To engage with this group it’s essential that they feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their role and that the company is serving a larger purpose.
This group typically enjoys and appreciates being a part of a collaborative team and enjoy flexibility in how and where they work. Trust is key here in allowing non-traditional work practices into the culture if possible. I have yet to interact with an organization that went backwards after allowing flexible schedules when it made sense. Millennials also appreciate the freedom to try new things.
This group is just now making a significant impact in the workforce and will continue to grow in influence in the coming years. Growing up in a fully digital age has left many of these workers lacking soft skills essential for long term leader success. When I spent times with senior leaders for the Leaders of Atlanta podcast many cited this need as they see the newest generation entering the workforce.
Provide soft skills training and other opportunities to grow as a person as well. Mentoring groups in and outside the company are a great way to connect them to the older generation. They typically put a very high value on independence and social responsibility, so give them freedom with a safety net and provide them opportunities to give back to the community and the world so they are fulfilled.
Use some of these practical tips and knowledge to engage individually with people across generations. Your workforce will be more engaged and unified as you push towards your business goals.
Our workplace environments are dealing with generational issues more than it ever has before. There are currently four generations simultaneously in the workforce, (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials, Gen Z). There also has not been as a profound difference between generations as there is now. This is in large part due to the timing of the third and fourth industrial revolution. Baby Boomers grew up without using computers for the most part, to Gen Z, who only know life in a smartphone world.
The lack of understanding and empathy across generations has let the culture killing issue of ageism into many work environments. Typically ageism is associated with older generations, but it actually impacts every generation across our workforce.
Understanding the signs
You first need to determine if you potentially have this issue in the first place. Some signs of ageism may look like this:
Employees cast judgment on one another based solely on age.
Employees dismiss the ideas offered by younger and older co-workers.
Generations compete for recognition, resources, and influence. (Us vs. Them)
Multi-generational teams uniquely struggle to accomplish their task or mission.
Sub-conscious bias to hire from one particular generation.
Older workers want to get out or retire early.
Younger workers are disengaged, uninterested and have higher turnover rates.
Employees assume people younger and older are incapable of doing the job as well as them.
Looking through the list, some of these signs are obvious and some are very subtle. It’s easy to pick on gossip and negative comments but much harder to realize there may be biased promotion procedures. Take a neutral look and include different generations as you gather your information.
Reports sometimes say a sign of ageism is when a manager communicates that they need special training to lead different generations. This is not true and is not ageism. What you are looking at is a leader that has self-awareness in their leadership ability and understanding of generational gaps. It’s beneficial for all employees to understand how to work across different generations.
Realize that there are deniers out there
If you do a search for “generational difference in the workplace myth” you’ll pull up a ton of articles from supposed experts and research scientists out there that deny generational differences exist. Don’t fall prey to this thinking. Much like the people that put videos denying work-life balance exists and then go on to explain a variation of the exact thing they are denying; many of the generational articles actually end up acknowledging ageism in a varied way.
Ways to collaborate across generations
Whether you find yourself and organization needing a turnaround or simply a little improvement, these areas a great place to start.
1. Keep expectations high. One of the classic stereotypes is that no generation can complete a task or project as well as the one that you are a part of. As a result, we lower our expectations in dealing with other generations. Keep your expectations high. You get what you expect and inspect. One of the most common self-fulfilling prophecies out there reads, “Low expectations.”
2. Find Commonality. We will cover items that are common across all generations in Ep 199: Commonality across generations. Remember that there is often shared commonality on a personal level just below the surface. You just need to be intentional in finding out what that is. Were you both in scouts or the military? Do you share the same hobbies? Movie or music taste? Are you both foodies? Into sports? There are many avenues to build a bond with someone that has nothing to do with your generation. Use this to build a relational bond that will help your working relationship.
3. Connect the talent. Yes, different generations have different communication preferences, personal work values, and challenges, but talent is talent. Everyone is talented in some regard. Understand what each person’s unique talent is and give them a chance to utilize it and show it off to others. It makes the person feel valued and appreciated and it helps to break misconceptions with other generations.
Next week we will dive into strategies on connecting with different generations and then move on to what we all share as well as the benefits when all generations work well together.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. -Jesus
There is certainly no one in the history of the world that has been talked about and written about more than Jesus. Three of the worlds largest religions acknowledge him in some way. (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) The records of Jesus’s time is filled with leadership. While not an exhaustive list by any means, we’ll cover a few of the highlights on what Jesus can teach us about leadership.
He was a servant
Think about if you were the president of the country and there was not a legislative body. Whatever you said or wanted would happen. What would you do with that amount of power? How would you carry yourself? That alone is hard to imagine. Now multiply that to having the power the rule the world and everything in it.
Jesus had that power but never showed it for personal gain. He never ruled in a political way, never sat on a worldly throne, and often slept outside. He wasn’t caught up in his own power; he was there to serve others. You and I obviously don’t have the same power that Jesus carried, so why should we act as if we do?
Serve others no matter your role or position. If you ever get to the point where you believe others are there to serve you, then you have lost your way as a leader.
He was a storyteller
Jesus is well known for his storytelling ability. He used this communication tool often when teaching his disciples and other followers about theological and life lessons. Jesus showed us the power of storytelling and why it is a tool that you should use when communicating with others.
The stories made complex theology mentally accessible to everyone. You didn’t have to spend your life in the temple to understand the concepts.
They were memorable. Think about the speeches and lectures that you hear. The parts that you walk away remembering are likely the stories that were told.
They all followed the same basic outline: A beginning, a challenge or dilemma, and a resolution. They were also typically short and to the point. Your stories don’t have to be long narratives to be effective.
His stories caused people to think. The best stories are the ones where people can project themselves or their circumstances and learn a lesson about themselves.
He handled interruptions well.
When reading about Jesus, it’s easy to overlook one thing. He was constantly interrupted. He was interrupted in his sleep, prayers, conversations, and in his travels. In each circumstance, he welcomed it with grace and humility.
We generally don’t like interruptions. I really dislike interruptions when I’m in a creative mood because an interruption can cause my creativity to come to a screeching halt. Jesus’s example shows us that we likely have an opportunity for growth in how we handle the daily interruptions that we have in work and life. Treat people with respect even when they interrupt you and keep your composure as things happen throughout your day that are unexpected.
A few interesting facts
Our system for counting years was developed in the Medieval Times based on their guess when Jesus was born. They got close but they likely weren’t right. Most scholars put Jesus’s birth between 6-4 B.C. while others put it as late as 7 A.D. That means you most likely are living 4-6 years from now if the calendar was fixed!
Speaking of birth, it’s very unlikely that Christmas is Jesus’s actual birthday. The date is never mentioned in the Bible and from historical context, it was likely sometime between summer and fall.
Jesus fulfilled many prophecies that were written in the Old Testament, with over 300 accounts about acts in the New Testament. To understand just how rare that is; the odds are 1 in a trillion raised to the 13th power.
Lead with a humble heart. Be a servant to others, tell great stories and embrace the interruptions. Lead like Jesus.
Make a better tomorrow. -ZH
If you are interested in getting to know more about Jesus, I would suggest the book The Case for Christ. It’s a book written by Lee Strobel about his journey as an award-winning journalist to disprove the existence of Jesus.